When I first was introduced to Powerpoint and it’s teaching benefits on my PGCE year I was immediately enthused by what it could do. It was a fun way of presenting new language, or grammar or information about a topic, and made a change from other introductory techniques such as flashcards, saying and repeating and other traditional techniques. I loved mucking around with sound effects, slide transitions and doing little games such as onboard word searches, quick flashing words / images, anagrams and so on. I still use a lot of powerpoint presentations today, mostly with Years 9 and 10, but there is such a thing as death by powerpoint and you can overdo it.
A good alternative is to use Prezi. Prezi is an online presentation tool, that basically allows you to have a blank canvas and to put on lots of text, images, videos, audio, graphics and so on, to create your presentation. It is really a different method of doing the same thing, but Prezi allows you more flexibility in how you construct your presentation and just feels a bit more hip and modern! You don’t have to view your completed presentation online though; the finished product can be downloaded and viewed offline if you don’t have an internet connection.
Happily, Prezi is free to use for teachers and educators, so go to the website http://prezi.com/ and register for your free account. Click on the ‘Sign Up’ button and scroll down to the smaller button that says ‘Students and Teachers – with educational email only’ and click this. Then either click ‘Edu Enjoy’ for free or the second option if you want to pay for the privilege and get a few more options and bonuses. You will then have to use your school email to register for this service to prove you are a student / teacher as they will verify this. From then, follow the instructions and you will be all set up.
I think the Prezi help videos are very good, and I would strongly advise watching these to get an idea of how to get started making your presentations and the kind of things you can do with the program. You can go to them directly by clicking on this link: http://prezi.com/learn/ or click on the picture below.
I’ll talk you through how to start as well, but you will probably get most out of watching these videos and then having a go yourself. Don’t forget to print out or read through the cheat sheets as well (these can easily be used if you get your students to use Prezi as well of course). The support system is good for Prezi I must say and it does give you a lot of useful tips about how to make the most of the program.
When you have signed up, you will go to ‘Your Prezis dashboard’. Here you can see the Prezis that you have already made, click ‘Learn’ to get ideas and tips, ‘Explore’ to have a look at other Prezis out there (you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel remember, there may already be one made that you can use if it is public -Prezis can be kept private as well and limited to those you want to see them. ) Thisd is also where you start your creative process by clicking the icon saying ‘New Prezi’. Having clicked this you will need to think of a title and put a brief description of its content. Having done this, you will have the option of picking which type of canvas you want to use, which best suits your presentation; some are rather business orientated, but most types of prezi will have viable uses in the MFL classroom and you can preview what they look like first. Having clicked on one of these and then start editing, your canvas will load up ready to be adorned with the wonders of your creativity. Here there is a picture showing what templates are available.
If you click on the blank template you are basically designing the whole thing without a template. The first thing to do is to get used to using the tools available and move around the canvas. This is what your starting canvas will look like (I have already filled in a title by double clicking this bit of the canvas.)
The tool in the top left hand side of the screen is the key thing to get used to using and how it works. As you can hopefully see in the picture above, in the blue circular tools you have circles labled ‘Insert’, ‘Frame’, ‘Path’ and ‘Colours and Fonts’. By clicking on these you can adapt your Prezi and organise the transition from element to element of the presentation. In the Insert menu option you can add in shapes, images, Youtube videos, powerpoint presentations, charts and files (including sound files). The frame option allows to change the shape of the frame of the textbox. The path button is the one you use when you are sequencing your presentation elements, to show which way you want to move around the canvas when the presentation and the colours and fonts obviously change the colour scheme for the canvas, including the writing colour.
You can click anywhere on the canvas to create a textbox and also click and hold to drag the canvas around to decide where you are going to add your next bit of text , graphic, video etc. It takes a little bit of getting used to, as occasionally you can create textboxes inadvertently (which can be deleted easily), but it is worth practising and working out how much of the screen can be seen during the presentation.
When you have put in your various elements, select the path option and click between the elements to decide in which order they will be shown. This will also be shown on the left hand side of your screen.
Your prezi is saved progressively so you won’t lose everything if something goes wrong which is handy. When you are done, click ‘Exit’ and you will then be able to show your Prezi.
Again, this can be a nice presentation tool for many purposes, and there are a variety of games that can be played with it, as you can do with powerpoint.
Why not have a look at these prezis and links to get ideas of how to use Prezi?